Monday 18 March 2013

Review: The London Aquarium with Superbreak

This weekend we had a lovely stay in London and of course needed something fun to do while we were there, something that was indoors, as in real British style it was raining again!

We set off for a day at the Sea Life London Aquarium as guests of Superbreak. Their London hotel deals which include aquarium tickets offer you priority entrance and this meant we were in the aquarium and starting to look around within about 10 minutes of joining the queue. I guess the standard queue must have taken about 1/2 hour so it made a difference to us.

Literally the minute you enter the aquarium you walk over a glass walkway with sharks swimming underneath, JJ thought this was pretty awesome but it was a bit of a shock to my little ladies. Miss M had a right fit until I demonstrated to her it could hold my weight and she would be just fine!

The aquarium is split into nine distinct areas and you follow the flow to go through each step by and step and see all the aquarium has to offer. We arrived at 12 noon on Saturday and it was very busy, I asked the staff how the busyness compared to the summer and they said it was about the same. I was glad to hear it would not get more busy. We were able to see everything but it did mean spending some time and waiting for people to clear away from a tank or window to get a good look. The staff member I spoke to said the quietest times of day are when the aquarium first opens at 10am or the last hour or two in the afternoon - about 4/5pm onwards.

Each of the areas is quite different, the turtles were by far my favourite and I spent ages watching them, as did Miss E. JJ enjoyed the sharks and it was good that you could get a look at shark reef from 3 different levels. Daddy liked the rays and we even saw a baby ray coming out of it's mermaid purse where the mother had laid her egg, that was pretty special. Then Miss M enjoyed watching the penguins bob in the water and touching the ice wall too.

Take a look at some of the great pictures we got -

Personally I would like there to have been more interactive things for the children to get involved with. Miss M did enjoy touching a real starfish but I think the highlight for the kids was completing their little passport book. Basically in each zone they had to stamp (or emboss more accurately) their passport and at the end they get a prize for doing so.  I must have competitive kids as mine made us go back to hunt for a stamp machine or two. Then at the end what did they end up with?  A sticker and a badge and a 15 minute queue to get them form the photo kiosk.

Talking of which there are various times throughout your visit when you can have your photo taken and it will cost you £10 for one photo or £12 for two and there are a variety of novelties available like glass blocks and snow globes. We declined to have our photo taken as I know I can easily get sucked into buying things we do not need.

We spent about 2 hours in the aquarium overall, we could have spent far longer and the staff told me you could look round, go away and come back again in the same day if you want to but to be honest we had done our bit by that point and were ready to move on.

Facilities at the Aquarium
  • As we left we passed through the gift shop and I was pleased to see plenty of small trinkets and toys with reasonable price tags, such as £2. Miss E took a fancy to a small plush seal which was £4.
  • There is no food facility on site but as you leave McDonalds is directly opposite and there are a few restaurants and coffee shops around the river close by.
  • There are chocolate and ice cream vending machines as you leave the aquarium and the prices are reasonable, my kids enjoyed a twister for £1.
  • We really missed the fact that there was no where to have a drink or even a drink vending machine and we were all gasping for water upon leaving.
  • It is advertised that there are toilets and baby change on every floor but they were not quite frequent enough for our children to be honest. there were all clean and well stocked though.
Our verdict

Miss M and Miss E both cited the aquarium as their favourite part of our stay in London, JJ said he was a bit bored, that we were there too long but to be honest I think this is because he has been to various aquariums before and it was not anything new for him.

If you and your children have not been to an aquarium before and you want to learn more about marine life then I am sure you will love it.

Do take a look at Superbreak if you fancy a theatre break, attraction break or dinner package in London or elsewhere, they have something to suit every taste and every pocket.

Disclosure: Our entry to the aquarium was free of charge courtesy of Superbreak.  They have not advised me what to write and I remain honest.

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